Attorney Kate Baker Alleges Boss Bullied Her Into Staying Single, Childless
By her own assessment, Kate Baker was a competent attorney who also wanted a personal life. But her boss, Chris Lingard allegedly saw things differently, berating Baker and her work, and telling her not to have a relationship or children.
The "bullying" that she experienced at the Follett Stock law firm, Baker, 33, told an employment tribunal in Exeter, England, this week, caused her to take time off from work after she became sick from the stress, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Baker (shown above) was eventually fired, for reasons that she alleges were related to her gender and her desire to date. Baker began working as a lawyer in 2004, earning 45,000 pounds a year (about $72,000 if exchanged today) before her dismissal in 2012.
"In my career I have never been told by a colleague or supervising partner that my work is 's***,' the London newspaper quotes her as saying in a statement provided the court. During that exchange with Lingard, which occurred last May, Baker described the treatment as coming "out of the blue."
She noted that Lingard, the law firm's managing partner, had awarded her a prize the prior December, after she had worked at the firm for just two months -- "and when I was still single."
Even as she was out sick, Baker charged that Lingard, berated her "for 1.5 hours and attempted to dismiss me by email."
Baker told the tribunal that she was made aware several times that Lingard, who is in his 50s, didn't want her to date or have children -- and was even told so by his wife. The tribunal judge read Baker's statement, which said: "Mr. Lingard on many occasions told me that he did not want me in a relationship or to have babies. I have a text message from Mr. Lingard's wife, which says, 'he doesn't want you in a relationship!!!"
The law firm has denied the claims of bullying and harassment.
Baker said that she wasn't the only employee who endured Lingard's wrath. He regularly criticized staff for taking lunch, the manner in which they answered phone calls and for leaving the blinds down, she said.
She also accused the firm of operating "a culture of bullying" and "oppression," and said employees weren't allowed to talk between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., a period they called "golden time."
Baker's claims of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal are to get a full hearing at a later date.
In the U.S., 35 percent of workers report that they've been bullied by a colleague. But 40 percent of bullied workers said that they didn't report the incidents.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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